The operations of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education in Durban are limping after the eThekwini Municipality cut power to one of its crucial and biggest offices in the entire province.
The uncompromising and ANC-run eThekwini Municipality cut the electricity supply to Truro House in the city centre almost a month ago.
IOL understands that the city is owed millions in unpaid electricity bills, and several letters to the department to settle the bill went unanswered.
The offices facing Durban Harbour service most of the eThekwini region for all its education needs, including the multi-billion-rand national school nutrition programme.
Several sources within the department alerted IOL of their predicament, saying they are sometimes forced to work from their homes just to keep the fire burning.
“We now work shifts as there is no power in the building; it was disconnected long ago, and it looks like it won’t be reconnected anytime soon,” one source said.
Another staff member said that as a result of the cuts, the processing of claims and other documents related to the school nutrition programme has been hampered.
“Their claims are not processed because of the disconnected electricity; they are told to wait until the matter is resolved,” another insider told IOL.
On Thursday afternoon (around 2pm) IOL visited the offices to confirm the claims and found the offices in utter darkness.
However, there were some offices that had power that was supplied by a generator within the building.
Some of the lifts were not working, and it was claimed that water services had also been disconnected.
However, IOL could not go deep inside the offices to confirm whether the water was flowing or not.
The spokesperson for the department, Muzi Mahlambi, refused to entertain questions about the matter, asking IOL who informed it about the matter.
On Thursday last week, during a consultative engagement between KwaZulu-Natal municipalities and the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in Durban, eThekwini city manager highlighted the issue of unpaid debts by government departments.
Musa Mbhele said they owe the city for water and electricity services but did not disclose how much they are owed.
He said that as a result of that, they find themselves forced to implement drastic measures like disconnecting the services until they have been paid what is due to them.